Lesson 36 – Shall I Build a Temple
What did David want to do at the beginning of this story?
do you think it seemed like such a good idea to him?
was Nathan's first response to David's idea?
What message did Nathan then receive in a dream ?
reason did God give for not wanting a house?
promises did God make to David?
- Making the story your own
- The story began with David
wanting to give a house to God (7:2). Instead, God promised to make a
house for David (7:llb). Share examples from
your own lives of times when you set out to give something, only to
discover that you were the recipient of a gift.
- How are our houses similar to the
church as a house of God?
How are they different?
- In what way is our congregation a
house for those who are literally or spiritually homeless?
How could it become more welcoming to strangers?
Memory verse: 2 Samuel 7:29b
“For you, O Lord
God, have spoken and with your blessing shall the house of your servent be blessed forever.”
Background (taken from Journey
through the Bible, Christian Board of Publications, 1995, p. 114)
succeeded in establishing Jerusalem as the capital for all the tribes of Israel. He has a home of his own in the city, and the
conflicts with the
Philistines and the other peoples surrounding the land of Israel are, at least temporarily, at an end.
Surely, David thought,
the time has come to build a
house for God!
2This entire chapter is dominated by
the term house. David has a house, but God does not;
instead, God dwells in the
tent of meeting, where the ark of the covenant is located. The chapter plays on the three
references to house: David's house, God's house, and David's descendants as God's gift to David of an abiding
"house." We first see that David
simply decides, on his own initiative, that God needs to have a house on earth.
3But the prophet Nathan, his chief
adviser, has a dream that very night. In the
dream Nathan learns that God has no interest
in a house and no need for one. The contents of God's speech to Nathan
in the dream occupy a large part of the chapter,
and the remainder of the chapter consists of the text of David's prayer of gratitude to God for the promise contained in Nathan's dream.
4This text is clearly a very important
one. Just as God's
promise to Abraham occupies a prominent place
at the beginning of the Abraham tradition (Genesis
12:1-3), and God's promise to Moses and the people of Israel stands out at the beginning of the story of God's giving the Torah on Mount
Sinai (Exodus 19:3-6), so here God's
promise to David and to his
descendants stands as the opening story of David's conduct of affairs as king of Israel. While the story has been reworked and elaborated on by the later Israelite tradition, it seems safe to
say that this story originated during
David's kingship and contains the
gist of Nathan's prophecy to David, pronounced
in God's name.
5Let us look closely at what David is
promised. Here, we see
no reference to the idea that David was not
permitted to build the temple in Jerusalem because he was a warrior who had shed much human blood. That reason is given in 1 Chronicles
28. No, the emphasis here falls on
the fact that God does not really
need a temple, a house located in a single
place on earth. Rather, God is to be found with this people with whom God made a covenant. Where they go, God is present, because of God's love for this people. And in addition, God loves
and cares for David. Wherever David
goes, there God will be present;
God's steadfast, sure love for David will
never be withdrawn. (See Isaiah 55:1-6.)
6And how will that love be displayed?
David's place with the
people of Israel is secure because God will see that his descendants
continue to sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem. But the house that
counts is God's presence with David and with the people of the covenant.
7This is both a glorious and a
dangerous promise that
comes to David through the prophet Nathan. It is glorious because it stresses the fact that God's true house is with people, not in the centers of worship that human beings make. This is a glorious text too because of its stress upon God's
special commitment to bless the
household of David and to maintain David's household throughout the centuries. This promise leads to the development of the Israelite conviction that the messiah of Israel will surely be a direct descendant of King David.
8And therein lies the danger, of
course. The promise of God's permanent choice of David's family as the legitimate kings of Judah gives great stability to the state of Judah after North
Israel withdraws and forms a separate state with its own kings. Never is there this stability to the
kingship of North Israel during its two hundred year history. But that stability is bought at a
great price. Worthless
kings like Manasseh and Jehoiakim can maintain their thrones in part because
they are legitimate
descendants of David. And when the city of Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians in 587/6
B.C.E., then the people can fall into utter
despair: What hope do they have when
David's kingship seems clearly to
have been repudiated?
9It is the prophet of the Babylonian
Exile, the one we call
Second Isaiah (author of Isaiah 40—55) who finds a way to assert the truth of this promise of God to David. In Isaiah 55:1-6, this
prophet affirms that God's
promise to David stands firm and true. It was the substance, not the form, of God's promise that
matters. God will be present with the people
of God's choice, will dwell with them
wherever they go, and will be their
Leader and their God.
10And we can see that this emphasis on
God's abiding presence
with the people is what is actually stressed
in the promise of God to David in our chapter.
In addition, the text lays much weight on the place where God will dwell with Israel. God will be present with them in this land of
promise, loving and caring for them, warning
and judging them, teaching them, healing
them, and always present with them as both their God and the God
of all peoples. But it will take the messages of many prophets and seers to spell out just how God will bring
this promise of David to its full
2 Samuel 7
Now when the
king was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his
enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, "See now, I am
living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent."
Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD
is with you."
But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan:
Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a
house to live in? I have not lived in a
house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about
in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I
have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the
tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a
house of cedar?" Now therefore thus
you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from
the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went,
and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a
great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people
Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be
disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my
people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD
declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down
with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring
after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his
kingdom. He shall build a house for my
name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a
son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from
him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made
sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.
with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
David went in and sat before the LORD, and said, "Who am I, O Lord GOD,
and what is my house, that you have brought me thus
far? And yet this was a small thing in your
eyes, O Lord GOD; you have spoken also of your servant's house for a great
while to come. May this be instruction
for the people, O Lord GOD! And what
more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! Because of your promise, and according to
your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may
know it. Therefore you are great, O LORD
God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according
to all that we have heard with our ears.
Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another nation on earth whose
God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself,
doing great and awesome things for them, by driving out before his people
nations and their gods? And you
established your people Israel for yourself to be your people forever;
and you, O LORD, became their God. And
now, O LORD God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant
and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as you have promised. Thus your name will be magnified forever in
the saying, 'The LORD of hosts is God over Israel'; and the house of your servant David will
be established before you. For you, O
LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant,
saying, 'I will build you a house'; therefore your servant has found courage to
pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord
GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good
thing to your servant;
now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your
servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord GOD, have
spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed
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